Medical marijuana debate gets heated in Tampa - WFLA News Channel 8

Medical marijuana debate gets heated in Tampa

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Attorney John Morgan argued in favor of medical marijuana Attorney John Morgan argued in favor of medical marijuana
Audience members gathered for the polarizing debate Audience members gathered for the polarizing debate

Sparks flew during a debate over medical marijuana at the University of Tampa Monday night as arguments from both sides got heated.

"You make money going around selling fear," said attorney John Morgan as he accused an opponent of medical marijuana of trying to scare the public before the November vote.

Dr. Eric Voth, chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy, said the public does have something to be concerned about.

"It's really something that - particularly physicians need to stand up and push back," he said. "Marijuana is not medicine. It's highly impure. It's not standardized. The biggest problem is - when you bypass the FDA - you lose all your standardization. You don't have research suggesting that a specific dose works at a specific point."

Morgan fired back at that.

"I don't need the FDA," he said. "You know what I put my faith in? I put my faith in God because God put this plant into nature for us ... because he know it works."

The level of applause from the audience, which consisted of hundreds of students, showed that there is strong support for medical marijuana here.

Tadhg Kavanagh, a University of Tampa student, compared marijuana to the prescription drugs on the market now.

"It's been around a much longer time. It's been a natural substance versus what man-made FDA has approved. These pain killers, people overdose and people die every year," Kavanagh said. "I would definitely say there is an overwhelming support of students in there for medical marijuana."

Not all students are convinced. Marco Tarantino said he understands the argument but sees a problem.

"I see it no differently than cigarette smoking... all of the same problems you see with cigarette smoking are almost identical to medical marijuana," he said. "While they do make a good point on the other side - for medical marijuana that it doesn't kill anybody - the long-term effects aren't still well-known."

Nicole Thompson, another UT student, has already decided she will vote for medicinal marijuana.

"My mom has cancer and it would be interesting because she is in pain," she said. "Her best friend has cancer, too, she's in pain. She's doing chemo. And it would just be nice to take away that pain."

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